how to train your dog to stay

How to Train Your Dog to Stay

“Stay” is such a well-known command but so many dogs and owners struggle with this. Especially for a young puppy, it is hard to stay still as they always want to move around and are easily distracted. Teaching your dog a solid stay will help you in many situations.

The command stay is being used in many situations where we do not want or dog to run out the door or jump up on guests. It simply means that your dog needs to remain in whatever position he is currently in. There is a difference between the “stay” and the “wait” command. Stay means that your dog shouldn’t move at all and wait means that he should stop any forward motion.

While you could use both, I only use the stay command and it works great for us. She is used to waiting before eating, running off, getting out of the car and so much more.

The Importance of the Release Command

Every stay needs to have an end and a beginning. This is why in order to teach the stay command, you will also need to train a release command. The release command is used as a cue that will mean something like “okay you are free to go.”

It helps to bring a lot of clarity into obedience training because your dog knows when he is in command and when not. After teaching stay with the steps below, you should definitely start working on the release command with this post.

Teaching Sit Before Stay

If your dog already knows the command sit then you can skip to the next step. Sit is probably the easiest command and it comes very naturally to your dog. Grab some yummy treats and let’s get started.

Begin by getting your dog’s full attention by either calling his name or waving at him. Show the treat to your dog and close your hand again. Make a backward motion and let your dog follow you.

Often times it is enough to simply move the treat upwards above his head to get him to sit. You could also lure the treat from his nose behind his head. Once he sits, give him the cue “sit” and plenty of praise and a treat for reward. Repeat it many times until you won’t have to make any motion to get your dog to sit.

Training Stay in 3 Easy Steps

Before teaching your dog outside, you will have to master the command inside. Begin in a low distractive environment like your living room where the pup is used to being trained. There shouldn’t be many people walking around and it should be fairly quiet.

  1. To start, get your dog into a sit or down position.
  2. Give your dog a verbal and visual command. You could use a stop signal with your hand and say the command “stay”.
  3. First, you will try to let your dog stay for two seconds. Give him some treats in between to let him know that he is doing a great job.
  4. Once you are finished, give your dog the release command and reward him.

You will then gradually increase the time in which your dog has to stay from 5 seconds to 10 seconds and even 20 seconds. Easy right? Well the longer the duration, the greater the distance and the stronger the distraction the harder it will get for your dog to stay.

Advanced Stay

To really perfect your stay, you will have to take baby steps. Start with taking one step away from your dog and rewarding him for the quick stay. You will slowly increase both the distance and duration to prepare your dog for distraction.

If your dog cannot hold the stay, go slower with him as you want to set him up for success. Inside your house, you can start with easy distractions, like letting a treat fall in front of your dog or wiggling a toy around. When getting outside, also start with small distractions just outside your door.

If you have concerns that your puppy might be too young, he is not. Young puppies are eager to learn. You can read more on my blog post about when should you start to train your puppy.

Try other commands like lie down and teach them the same way as you did with sit and stay. Turn around while moving away from your dog, this will make it harder for him. Jump around and run a few meters to see if your dog would break out of the command.

The most advanced step will be to get out of sight while your dog is staying. Start it easy by getting your dog into a sit and stay and only move around the next corner and come back immediately. Over time, you can then built up the stay until you can walk around the whole house while your dog is waiting.

Things to Keep in Mind While Training

Always split up training into small 5-10 minute training sessions and spread them throughout the day especially if you have a small puppy and their attention span is short. Short training sessions will make it easier for your dog to stay focused and to enjoy the training.

Only train your dog when you have enough time and patience for it. This will prevent you from getting frustrated and even yelling at your dog. If you are too stressed or busy, reschedule the training session for later or another day.

Always pay attention to your dog’s body language. If he seems to get bored and tired stop immediately and try shorter sessions next time. You will want your dog to enjoy training as much as possible and be enthusiastic about it. Train with his favorite treats or his beloved toy to make rewarding even more effective.

Be patient and consistent. This will help you getting the best training results possible and your puppy will be the happiest. Always use the same verbal and visual cue when teaching the same command and encourage your family members to do the same.

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